When you are deciding on an MPLS network carrier, an important thing to consider is the router that will be provided, assuming that you want fully managed services.  This is a subject that many people are unclear on.

Many carriers will provide a Cisco 1841 in their quotation.  The primary reason being cost.  Some carriers will quote a Cisco 2811.  While the cost is a bit higher, so in the expandability and performance.  While this blog is not intended to be a technical hardware discussion, the general subject of MPLS networks warrants a brief message about this topic.

Cisco 1841:

  1. List: $995 (depending on configuration)
  2. Memory (Std/Max): F: 32/128 and D:128/384
  3. LAN: 1 E/FE
  4. WAN Card Slots: 2 (data only)
  5. Network Module Slots: none
  6. Advanced Integration Module Slots: 1
  7. Digital Signal Processing Slots: none
  8. USB Ports: 1 (for USB Flash configuration)
  9. Form Factor: shelf
  10. Power supply redundancy: none
  11. Voice support: none
  12. Fast/CEF Switching: 38.40Mbps with 64 byte packets

Cisco 2811

  1. List: $1750 (depending on configuration)
  2. Memory (Std/Max): F: 64/256 and D:256/768
  3. LAN: 2 E/FE
  4. WAN Card Slots: 4 HWIC/VWIC/WIC/VIC (Hardware WAN Interface Card/Voice WIC/WIC/Voice Interface Card)
  5. Network Module Slots: 1
  6. Advanced Integration Module Slots: 2
  7. Digital Signal Processing Slots: 2
  8. USB Ports: 2 (for USB Flash configuration)
  9. Form Factor: rack
  10. Power supply redundancy: RPS-675 (optional power supply)
  11. Voice support: DSP/NM
  12. Maximum CCUE phones:  36
  13. Max SRST Phones: 36
  14. Fast/CEF Switching: 61.44 Mbps with 64 byte packets

To summarize:

  1. The 1841 is suitable for a single T1 or E1.  If you plan on using VoIP or growing to NxT1 or NxE1, select a better router.
  2. The 2811 is suitable for two T1s or E1s and supports voice.  It’s little brother the 2801 has less memory and less expansion slots, with a base configuration for a single T1 or E1.
  3. If your growth requirements will be greater, get the right router from the start to allow your upgrades to be painless and avoid any unexpected capital purchases.
  4. There are other router manufacturers than Cisco, so consider your options in full.
  5. Carrier provided routers and management will cost you more than leasing and managing the routers yourself, providing you have the resources to do it yourself.  Managed routers eliminate the management headache.  You can also hire SD-WAN-Experts to manage your routers and provide more granular network reporting.